Title: Reuben Farwell to Walt Whitman, 5 May 1864
Date: May 5, 1864
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Drum Beats: Walt Whitman's Civil War Boy Lovers, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco, California: Gay Sunshine Press, 1989), 135-136. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Whitman Archive ID: duk.00369
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Vanessa Steinroetter, Luke Hollis, Sarah Synovec, Eric Conrad, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter
I1 have nothing of much consequence to write you this morning. A fine day this is likely to be although I am on guard. Yesterday I was over to the City & saw the Boys in Ward. A. . I also went to your residence but found you absent I enquired where you had gone & when you would be at home I could get no information on that subject, therefore I returned to the Hospital then to this Camp.
I was disappointed in not seeing you I came over on that Errand. But alas I came back without seeing you.
Perhaps I will see you before I am sent a way to the front if possible
Orders are very strict in this camp also through out the defences of Washington that is one reason why I had rather be sent to the Regiment I would not stay around this City the rest of my time in service for a considerable a mount of Pork & Soft Bread
Walt yours I received after I returned from the City to the Camp. It came all right side up
I was very glad to have you write & I will scribble this as an answer at your request that you may know I received your kind & welcome letter. My best wishes are with you for indeed I have found a Friend at last to the poor Soldier
I will close this by hopeing to hear from you again
Ever Your Friend
1. "Little Mitch," or Reuben Farwell, served with the Michigan Cavalry during the War and met Walt Whitman in Armory Square Hospital early in 1864, and upon his release from the hospital he corresponded with Whitman. After Farwell received his discharge on August 24, 1864, he returned to his home in Plymouth, Michigan. Evidently the correspondence was renewed when Whitman sent a post card on February 5, 1875. On March 5, 1875, Farwell, who owned a farm in Michigan, wrote: "Walt my dear old Friend how I would like to grasp your hand and give you a kiss as I did in the days of yore. what a satisfaction it would be to me." In Farwell's last letter, on August 16, 1875, he said that he was planning to leave shortly for California. Eleven letters from Farwell are in the Trent Collection. He is mentioned in Memoranda During the War (see The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman, 10 vols. [New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1902], 4:134). When Bucke wrote to Farwell after Walt Whitman's death, apparently only this one note, written "on the back of a circular," was extant (Miller). For Farwell's other correspondence with Whitman see April 30, 1864, June 8, 1864, June 16, 1864, October 2, 1864, November 7, 1864, November 21, 1864. [back]